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Rediff.com  » News » Madhya Pradesh: 'BJP is losing its pool of voters'

Madhya Pradesh: 'BJP is losing its pool of voters'

November 21, 2018 09:33 IST

'Shivraj Singh Chouhan gave an affidavit in the Supreme Court that his government will give reservation in promotions which resulted in a powerful reaction by the youth.'
'These youth used to vote for the BJP, but will not vote for it in this election.'
'Even if the Congress does not make any gains, the BJP is losing voters in the current situation. It is losing farmers, OBC votes.'

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and wife Sadhna Singh

IMAGE: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his wife Sadhna Singh perform the Govardhan Puja at the chief minister's residence in Bhopal. Photograph: PTI Photo

Five years ago, the results of the state elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh which came six months before the national election, paved the way for the Narendra Damodardas Modi government.

Five years later, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party governments in these states are in for a stiff fight. In Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan after being in power for 15 years has to counter voter fatigue while the Congress is trying to counter in-party factionalism and attempting to appeal to the Hindu vote.

"There are young people who have only seen one government. This is the Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter generation, which is looking for change all the time," Dr A P S Chouhan, professor of political science at Gwalior's Jiwaji University, tells Rediff.com's Archana Masih.

Can Shivraj Singh Chouhan beat anti-incumbency? Can he win a record fourth term?

It is not only anti-incumbency, but fatigue among the younger generation.

There are young people who have only seen one government. This is the Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter generation which is looking for change all the time.

There is also a fatigue amongst voters which feels they have been voting for years and getting the same kind of leadership in MP. Then there is anti-incumbency against Shivraj Singh Chouhan and local MLAs.

What are the problems faced by the people of the state that may have a bearing when they cast their vote?

There are thousands of schools in MP that have only one teacher. Hospitals are in bad shape.

Shivraj Singh has taken a good initiative of sponsoring pilgrimage for the aged to religious places. Also providing smart phones to students, cycles to girls. This amounts to about 145,000 who are direct beneficiaries.

Unfortunately he does not have any package for creation of employment. So even if students are getting fee waiver in institutions, what purpose does it have if these institutions don't have teachers?

So these youth pay and go to private colleges. There are many grand policies, but the ground reality is showing something else.

 

There may be voter fatigue, but what can the Congress bring to MP? Does it provide an alternative?

In its worst time, when it was completely wiped out, the Congress got 36.4% of the vote. The BJP got 7% to 8% more votes than the Congress in 2013.

Even if the Congress does not make any gains, the BJP is losing voters in the current situation. It is losing OBC farmers. Farmers in the state are in a pathetic state.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan's Bhavantar Yojana has unfortunately not helped the the smaller farmers, and there are very few big farmers in the villages of MP.

Farmers do not have cash for their crop, have to bribe officials in the mandi -- so the BJP is losing those kisan and OBC votes.

There is a recent emergence of the Sapaks Samaj Party, which is anti-reservation. Shivraj Singh gave an affidavit in the Supreme Court that his government will give reservation in promotions which resulted in a powerful reaction by the youth.

In every city there was a protest by 4,000 to 6,000 boys and girls. These youth used to vote for the BJP, but will not vote for it in this election.

The BJP is losing its pool of voters.

Rahul Gandhi in a temple in Madhya Pradesh

IMAGE: Congress President Rahul Gandhi offer prayers at the Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. Photograph: PTI Photo

The Congress is attempting to appeal to Hindu sentiment by Rahul Gandhi's temple visits, Digivijay Singh's Narmada yatra, Kamal Nath announcing that the party would set up cow sheds in every district of the state etc. How will this help the Congress?

It is a strategy to get votes. The BJP and RSS are not the thekedars (custodians) of the Hindu religion. They are a selective group of people among Hindus and are occupying every space which relates to tradition, culture and heritage.

The Congress is trying to prove that it is also has practicing Hindus and it is not only a select group of people who can claim to be dominating and giving directions to Hindus.

This is a counter to monopolising Hindu tradition.

There are many Hindus in society who are not hard core, aggressive or dominating because Hindu culture was never dominating and aggressive. They are trying to counter that hegemony being created by the RSS and BJP.

How do you think the Muslims view this?

Muslims do know the history of the Congress. Rahul Gandhi has said he visits mosques, dargahs, churches, temples but he is a practicing Hindu.

Prime Minister Modi has had great success in turning the tide of elections with his energetic election meetings in state elections. How will his charisma work in MP?

The Modi effect has eroded since 2013-2014. He is not the Modi of 2013-14. They have been exploiting the Ram mandir since 1992. It will not have an effect in these three states.

In the state election, do you think voters will vote keeping the Modi-led BJP government in the Centre or Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the state?

The Congress has been out of power in Madhya Pradesh since 2003. The BJP government is seeking a fourth straight term. How are these parties expected to perform?

The Congress did not fare well in 2008 and 2013 because there was a lot of factionalism. That factionalism is still there, but it is not as visible as before.

But the spat over ticket distribution between Digvijay Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia was splashed in the media.

Both clarified it was a discussion over candidates rather than a heated discussion and they have tweeted about.

The factionalism of the last two elections hasn't surfaced in the Congress this time around.

The differences in the top leadership is emerging more in the BJP than in Congress.

Former Union minister Sartaj Singh has left the BJP and joined the Congress, there were problems with Babulal Gaur and Kailash Vijayvargiya, then their daughter-in-law and son were given tickets respectively to stop a standoff.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan's brother-in-law Sanjay Singh Masani has also joined the Congress./p>

Yes, the same things that used to happen with the Congress has started happening with the BJP. Regional leaders want their own supporters to get tickets rather than seeing their winnability.

They say the BJP is a disciplined, cadre-based party, but unfortunately these kind of differences have started showing in the BJP.

The BJP does not have the unanimity of the 2003, 2008 and 2013 elections.

What is causing these differences to arise?

Shivraj Singh Chouhan has dominated the BJP in MP for the past 15 years. The differences that have surfaced in the BJP today is basically because of the differences between other leaders of the state BJP.

These differences were rare in the BJP.

Archana Masih / Rediff.com